Published by Delacorte Press on January 23rd 2018
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley
Fans of The 5th Wave will devour this heart-pounding sci-fi novel about a girl with a secret: on a near-future Earth taken over by aliens, she is the only human left alive.
RAISED AMONG THEM. Li has a father and a sister who love her. A best friend, Mirabae, to share things with. She goes to school and hangs out at the beach and carefully follows the rules. She has to. Everyone she knows--her family, her teachers, her friends--is an alien. And she is the only human left on Earth.
A SECRET THAT COULD END HER LIFE. The Abdoloreans hijacked the planet sixteen years ago, destroying all human life. Li's human-sympathizer father took her in as a baby and has trained her to pass as one of them. The Abdoloreans appear human. But they don't think with human minds or feel with human hearts. And they have special abilities no human could ever have.
FIT IN OR DIE. When Li meets Ryn, she's swept up in a relationship that could have disastrous consequences. How far will Li go to stay alive? Will she save herself--and in turn, the human race--or will she be the final witness to humanity's destruction?
The premise of this book drew me in immediately- the last human being on Earth!? Yes, of course I needed to read it. Not only was Li the last human, but she had to try to pretend she was just “one of the aliens”. And I mean, that is how the story went down, don’t get me wrong. Only… that was about the extent of it. Aliens, one human girl with a case of insta-love, and incredibly limited world-building left me wanting a lot more.
First of all, the alien people I guess look a lot like humans, since Li has been passing for one since forever. Only… the aliens have gills. Because sure, right? They don’t live in the water or anything, so your guess as to why they have gills is as good as mine. Our girl Li also has gills. Fake gills, albeit, but gills. How one hides breathing is beyond me. And I asked myself that many, many times during the book, especially since quite a bit of the story involves physical activity, and if I am running around, you’re probably going to see me take a gasp or two of air?
A reaction Li cannot have, under penalty of death I guess?
But okay, we’ll move past that, I suppose. Li’s only chance to escape comes from a competition to be a higher-up in the military, because apparently she can go off-planet, and maybe the aliens on those planets will be cooler about the uselessly-gilled-human thing? Again, no idea. Whatever, this is the Super Important Life Event™ she’s been training her whole life for. So when a dude gives her the feels… of course she risks it all. ?
Obviously, her relationship with Ryn (aforementioned dude) is pretty insta-lovey. My basic definition of insta-love is “willing to throw away previously important people and/or life priorities for romantic interest character barely knows”, and this is pretty much textbook. Not only does Li risk her actual physical life by getting too close to Ryn too quickly, she seems pretty down to whatever he suggests in general. She reminds me of one of those girls who just blindly follows a guy because he showed her some attention. It’s kind of gross. Ryn isn’t a terrible character even, just generic. But their super quick love declarations were hokey.
There were a lot of coincidences along the way, too. For example, Li ends up on the same training team as the literal only mentioned characters up until that point, who also happened to be her best friend, some other people they hung out with, the “bad guy”, and of course, Ryn. Look, I don’t know about you guys, but when I was thrown into group projects, it was with three randos I’d never spoken to and was forced to work with, so the chances that all her teammates are her buds? Nope, nope, not buying it. That’s a non-spoilery example, but… there are more.
While we’re talking about the best friend, I have a real beef with that situation, too. It’s a spoiler, but man I was salty, so here you go for all of you who cannot control yourselves: View Spoiler »The ONLY strong female friendship in the whole damn book goes straight to hell when freaking jealousy leads Li’s bestie to betray the fuck out of her. So of course Li now can only trust her boyfriend and family, and my eyes are practically rolling out of my head. « Hide Spoiler
The writing was a little… simple, I guess is a good word? It wasn’t generally terrible or anything, but there were some real head-scratchers in terms of fluidity. This was a fun example:
Also, isn’t that the exact description of President Alma Coin of District 13? ?
See, why did I need to know that random detail mid-paragraph? (Spoiler: I didn’t.) Things like that just took me out of the story and were a bit confusing overall.
The good things? There were a few! The ending was actually kind of interesting, but only if there will be a sequel, otherwise it was rude. Li’s relationship with her sister was pretty awesome. And the book was a quick read, so that’s nice.
Ultimately, this just fell short of my expectations. The world-building was akin to what I’d expect from a short story in an anthology or something, and the lack of information and insight was confusing and unappealing. Li was an okay character, but her decisions didn’t seem to correlate to her personality, so it was hard to make sense of why she was doing what she was doing. And I still don’t understand why the hell these aliens had gills, tbh.
Bottom Line: Cool premise that could have gone a lot differently with a more sophisticated world-building and consistent character traits. And also less-insta love, because who likes that?